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The following is an article I wrote about six months ago about how I was able to learn even though I was not at the Orange Conference in 2010.  This year, I will be blogging from Orange!  I’m pretty excited about that, but I also know there are many people who won’t be there this year.  I have added some minor updates for Orange 2011. 

Please, if you have any other ideas how to stay connected with Orange even from a distance, let us know in the comments.  Or, write a blog post about it and leave us the link.

Last year, I was unable to attend the Orange conference for a variety of reasons as lamented in this post on my blog.  I couldn’t go for the same reasons I rarely attend any conferences.  However, I committed myself to still gaining from the conference, just in a different way.  I recognize that I once again may not be able to attend Orange.  I asked my pastor about it and he laughed when I told him the price.  I’m going to try, but it’s not looking good.  Many of you are probably in the same boat, especially if you are a volunteer.

Even if you are unable to physically unable to attend Orange, there are a variety of ways to benefit from it.

I think the most valuable resource available is the live stream.  If you have any way of catching the streamed sessions, do it.  During the majority of the conference when the sessions were not being streamed, they had a live stream featuring interviews with many of the people in kids’ (and student and family) ministries that we all know and love.  **Update: They will be live streaming again this year

The second most valuable way I got information from Orange 2010 was Twitter.  Instead of having to sift through an enormous amount of content, the best statements were shared with me in 140 characters or less. It was actually because of Orange that I even joined Twitter.  Now, I can’t imagine not being a part of that community.  If you have Twitter you can follow me @pastorjaredm.  If you do not have Twitter, you should get it.  Unfortunately, you miss a lot of the context in this method, but it is still a very valuable tool.  **Update: Follow the #kidmin, #thinkorange, and #orange11 hashtags for all of the great tweets coming from Orange.

The gift that keeps on giving from Orange is the blog posts that have come from it.  During the weeks following Orange there were a surplus of blog posts.  If someone took the time, you could easily gather information from every session and breakout available, often from multiple viewpoints.  Even shared a variety of follow-ups.  To this day, six months after Orange, there are still follow-up posts coming out, such as Henry Zonio’s newest blog series**Update: You should definitely subscribe to this blog to get some great Orange content, but also check out all of the other Orange bloggers!

Many of the people who have been to Orange will tell you that one of the greatest benefits is the networking that happens.  While it certainly isn’t the same, both Twitter and blog posts provide opportunity for discussion and should be utilized by those who are unable to attend.

What did I miss?  How were you able to get something from Orange even from a distance?